When Stanton Friedman (a nuclear physicist who some call “the father of modern UFOlogy”) gives lectures on extraterrestrials and flying saucers, he often directs the audience to close their eyes, then asks them – keeping their eyes closed – to raise their hands if they have ever seen a UFO; about 10% raise their hands. He then asks those who have their hands raised to keep them raised if they reported the UFO. Ninety percent of the hands go down. When these people are asked why they didn’t report their UFO sightings, the great majority replied that they feared being labeled nutcases.
People fear ridicule, and ridicule has been one of the primary tools used by the government to suppress information regarding UFO sightings, and has been since the CIA’s Robertson Panel Report in 1963. Hardly anyone sees a UFO, and if you do your sanity, your alcohol intake and your drug use are all questioned. No one wants to be different. That’s why the UFO Stalker application at MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) and the UFO report database at NUFORC (the National UFO Reporting Center) are so great – they show you that if you’re crazy, you’ve got LOTS of company.
Below is a screenshot of the landing page of MUFON’s UFO Tracker – a partial map of the continental United States with the most recent UFO sightings (within the previous 48 hours) marked by icons (a flying saucer, a black triangle, or an alien face) indicating a single sighting, or a number within a colored circle indicating multiple sightings (green circle = 2-9 sightings, yellow circle = 10-99 sightings, and red circle = 100+ sightings). Individual cases are listed below the map with clickable links that take the reader to longer reports (if they are available).
While it appears that many areas haven’t experienced any sightings, keep in mind that the landing page only displays the UFO sightings that occurred within the previous two days. If you were to zoom in on an empty region like, for example, Amarillo, Texas, you’ll get the historical record for the area and see something like the screenshot below – at least 20 UFO sightings between May 2006 and September 2014.
The other main resource for UFO sightings is NUFORC’s UFO report database. While it doesn’t have snazzy maps, the report database is composed of four indexes with sightings reported by: 1) date of sighting, 2) the U.S. state or Canadian province where the sighting took place (non- U.S. or Canadian sightings can be found in the state index under “Unspecified/International), 3) the shape of the UFO, and 4) date reported. Like MUFON’s program, each entry in NUFORC’s UFO report database links to a slightly more detailed report. Additionally, NUFORC is the organization that the FAA refers pilots to should they experience a UFO sighting (see the box at left).
One thing to keep in mind while looking through these sites is that neither MUFORN nor NUFORC are debunking agencies and any individual can report a sighting. This means that it is likely there are many hoaxes, errors and cases of mistaken identity among the reports. MUFON representatives estimate that the percentage of hoaxes among its reports range from 1% – 3%.
While these two websites are fun to browse through, in the end they prove nothing. However, if they do anything to lighten the taboo surrounding UFOs and reassure people they are not crazy, they will have accomplished much.